Bernadette Peters is rare among performers of her generation in that she has largely resisted opportunities in concertizing, recording, and appearing in films and on television to focus on acting and singing on the Broadway stage for a grueling eight shows a week. As a result, she is the biggest star in the American musical theater in her generation. But Broadway composers and librettists are not writing new shows as star vehicles for mature female performers anymore, as they were in Ethel Merman's day. As a result, Peters has turned to revivals to keep her name in lights on the Great White Way, sometimes turning to shows not entirely suited to her talents. Certainly, that was the case in her portrayal of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, and initially, one might think of her as similarly miscast in another Merman vehicle, Gypsy. But Peters got her professional start in a bit part in a touring production of Gypsy, and she clearly knows the show backwards and forwards. The part of the monstrous Mama Rose may seem a challenge for an actress known for her vulnerability and coy sexuality, but Peters is also a stage veteran who knew what she was getting into. And she has worked hard on this production, work that shows in the cast recording. From Mama Rose's first appearance, calling, "Sing out, Louise!," Peters inhabits the part. She gets the ruthless determination in "Some People," the deliberate flirtatiousness of "You'll Never Get Away From Me," and the irrational optimism of "Everything's Coming Up Roses," not to mention nailing the tour de force climax "Rose's Turn." The supporting cast is fine: John Dossett's Herbie can actually carry a tune, which is a welcome change from previous productions, and Tammy Blanchard's Louise matures convincingly from a mousy daughter to the commanding Gypsy Rose Lee. But this album is all about Peters' interpretation, which will not make theater fans forget Merman, or even Angela Lansbury in the triumphant 1970s revival, but which stands validly on its own.
Gypsy [The New Broadway Cast Recording] Review
by William Ruhlmann